Archbishop Schnurr celebrates mass for the election of the pope [Video]
On March 1, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrated mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati. The video above is his homily from that mass.
Included below is the complete text of Archbishop Schnurr’s homily.
Mass for Pope Benedict XVI
Homily of Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr
Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains
March 1, 2013
The Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world with over a billion members. Our leader is called affectionately “the Pope”, or “Holy Father.” We call the Pope “Father”, just as we Catholics call our parish priest “Father”, because the Pope represents God as our Father, who loves us, who made us, and who sent his Son to die on the cross for us. The Pope represents God our Father in a special way, because like a good parent he guards the truth of the revelation which Jesus Christ handed on to his apostles. In today’s gospel, we hear Jesus praying for the Apostles in His farewell discourse at the Last Supper. He prays, “Holy Father, keep them in your name…. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” The Apostles are sent into the world to proclaim the Word of God which is truth.
Moreover, St. Paul tells us in the first reading that Apostles are specially chosen by God to build up His Church. He states that it is the responsibility of the Apostles “to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ….” And how is this done? St. Paul tells us, by “living the truth in love.”
Chief among the Apostles was Simon whom Jesus called in his own language Cephas, meaning “Rock”. We believe that the Pope is the successor of Peter, the Fisherman. During His lifetime, Jesus made Peter the leader of His Church on earth, to take over when Jesus died, rose again from the dead, and went to be with His Father in heaven. After Simon had named Jesus as “the Son of the Living God,” Jesus said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter (the Rock), and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. [Matthew 16:17-19]
Jesus was giving Peter immense authority: to act for Christ in guarding the truth; indeed to excommunicate those who did not keep that truth, or who behaved in such a way contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
Peter did just that. He eventually went to Rome, and was martyred by crucifixion. Tradition has it that he asked to be crucified upside down, because he did not deserve to be crucified the same way as our Lord! His tomb can be seen today in Vatican City, underneath the Basilica of Saint Peter.
There have been 265 Popes since then, all successors of Peter. Like Peter, they are human, no doubt with human failings. But we believe as Catholics that they share the authority of Peter. The Holy Spirit we believe gives the Pope, together with all the Catholic bishops of the world, the special gift to be able to discern the true faith, and to teach that faith to the Church and to the world.
The Church is not a democracy. We believe that the Pope has the authority to teach with or without the consent of individual members of the Church. After all, Jesus did not ask for a vote when He decided, in obedience to God the Father, to give Himself up to death on the cross. His disciples would have voted against it! We do not believe that we have the power to change the teaching in the Bible such as the Ten Commandments, or the commandment to love. That is part of what we call the “magisterium”, that is the teaching authority of the Church, handed on in written Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church, concerning which the Pope is as our “Father” on earth and the guardian of our faith.
In his farewell to the Cardinals yesterday, *Benedict XVI, Pope-emeritus, assured them, “I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him.” We join the Pope-emeritus in that prayer.
See more videos of Archbishop Schnurr